Monday, November 4, 2013

Fair Tax

If there is one thing that is really hard to type it has to be "Fair Tax." It's even harder to get your head around. Nonetheless that or something very similar was blurted out by a spectator during the run up to Dunwoody's Council elections in the context of one of the candidates receiving an exemption from DeKalb County School taxes which is offered to qualifying senior citizens. Some observers questioned the candidate's eligibility while others suggested that a common tactic is to manipulate income timing in order to qualify for the exemption which once acquired is held forever. But the interesting whiner is the one who questioned the political viability of someone who doesn't "pay their fair share."

This notion of "fair share" especially in the context of "you should pay YOUR fair share for my kids' school" carries a lot of weight in the 'burbs which as we all know are dedicated to the worship of children. Fair enough. We all knew this when we moved here.

But what is the scope of this educational fair share principle? Our arbitrary geo-political borders make this a relevant and interesting question. What do we say to the retired couple who raised their kids in Michigan but now live as empty nesters in the Wold? No takee no payee? Hardly. Same for the single homeowner or the childless couple. You pay YOUR fair share. As determined by someone else.

But what about groups? You know: Dunwoody. Dunwoody is increasingly adept at separating itself and justifying these breakaways by observing that Dunwoody pays more out than it receives in services sort of like that single gentleman around the corner. This is now the talk in the Wold regarding schools--Dunwoody pays so much more in taxes than it would take to fund just OUR schools and consequently Dunwoody can easily justify the cost of its own school system.

But what about our social contract? You know, like the one that forces those childless retirees to pay for this or any other school system from which they receive no benefit? As a group does not the very same argument for that taxation apply to those living in Dunwoody--those collectively known as citizens of Dunwoody? Do we not have an obligation to fund the educations of children who simply happen not to live in Dunwoody just as those retirees pay for children who don't happen to live in their house? Are we as a community not party to the same social contract as that childless couple down the street?

Or are we just picking and choosing the rhetoric that supports our pre-ordained march to Dunwoody, Dunwoody, uber alles?